Contouring resources

Contour is the term that Project uses to refer to the shape of a resource's work assignment over time. Contours come in several flavors; the most common are Flat, Back Loaded, Front Loaded, and Bell. The default contour is Flat, which means that a resource works on a task for the maximum number of hours that he or she is assigned to a task for the duration of the assignment. You can use different contours to control how much a resource is scheduled to work on a task at a given time — and possibly resolve a conflict.

Tip Add the Peak Units field to the Resource Usage view to display the maximum effort — as distributed over time — that a resource is expected to work. This field is ' particularly useful when you have selected a contour other than the default (Flat).

The Flat contour assigns a resource to work the maximum number of hours per time period throughout the duration of the task. By changing the contour, you can more accurately reflect the actual work pattern for the resource while working on a task.

To better understand contours, think of dividing each task into 10 equal timeslots. By using the various contours, Project assigns percentages of work to be done in each timeslot. Contours help you to assign work to a task, based on when the task requires the effort. For example, if a task requires less effort initially, consider using a Back Loaded contour. If a task requires most effort in the middle of the task, consider using a Bell, Turtle, or even an Early Peak contour.

If you start changing contours from the default Flat contour, you may inadvertently create a resource conflict. Therefore, viewing the contours that you set can help you resolve resource conflicts.

Setting a contour pattern

To set a contour pattern, follow these steps:

1. Choose ViewOTask Usage. In the sheet portion of the view, Project displays each task in your project with the resources that are assigned to it listed below the task, showing the number of hours per day that a resource is assigned to a task.

2. In the Task Name column, double-click the resource for which you want to apply a contour, or select the resource and click the Assignment Information button on the Standard toolbar. Then click the General tab of the Assignment Information dialog box, as shown in Figure 10-17.

Figure 10-17: Use the General tab of the Assignment Information dialog box to select a contour.

3. Open the Work contour list box, and select a contour.

Tip To change the start and end dates for the resource's work on the task, use the Start and Finish list boxes.

When you select a contour other than Flat, an indicator appears next to the resource in the Indicator column. If you pass the mouse pointer over the indicator, Project identifies the contour that was applied to the resource, as shown in Figure 10-18.

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Figure 10-18: Project displays an icon in the Indicator column next to a resource for which you have chosen a contour other than Flat.

Tip The same icon appears in the Indicator column in the Resource Usage view.

Keep the following points in mind when working with contours:

♦ Suppose that you apply a contour other than the default Flat contour to a task, and later you add new total work values to the task. Project automatically reapplies the contour pattern to the task and the resources by first distributing the new task work values across the affected time span and then by assigning new work values to the resources that are working on the task.

♦ If you set a contour and then change the start date of the task or the start date of a resource's work on the task, Project automatically shifts the contour and reapplies it to include the new date, thus preserving the pattern of the original contour.

♦ If you increase the duration of a task, Project stretches the contour to include the new duration.

♦ Suppose that you apply a contour other than the default contour to a task. If you manually edit a work value on the portion of a view that displays the contour, Project no longer applies the contour pattern automatically. However, you can reapply the contour to redistribute the new values.

♦ If you enter actual work and then change the task's total work or total remaining work, Project automatically redistributes the changes to the remaining work values and not to the actual work.

Contouring a resource's availability

Starting in Project 2000, you can contour a resource's availability. To contour a resource's availability, use the General tab of the Resource Information dialog box, as shown in Figure 10-19. In the Resource Availability list box, set Available From and Available To dates for the selected resource. A particular resource may be available to work on your project only part-time for a specified time frame. Or, suppose that you have five computer programmers, but only three are available in August and one retires in September. Use the Resource Availability section to specify the availability of your resources, which will influence your project's schedule.

Figure 10-19: Set dates that represent the resource's availability so that you can assign the resource to a task by using only the dates that the resource is available.
Project Management Made Easy

Project Management Made Easy

What you need to know about… Project Management Made Easy! Project management consists of more than just a large building project and can encompass small projects as well. No matter what the size of your project, you need to have some sort of project management. How you manage your project has everything to do with its outcome.

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